The American Dental Association (ADA) strongly recommends some type of mouth protection for any sport or activity that carries a significant risk of injury, including but not limited to ice hockey, football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, softball, baseball and volleyball. Mouth guards cushion blows to the face, which minimize trauma to teeth and soft tissues. It is especially important to wear a mouth guard if you are wearing braces to protect the teeth being moved and prevent the braces from cutting the mouth. It also keeps your orthodontist happy.
Advantages of wearing a mouth guard include: protecting teeth, soft tissue, deflecting and cushioning blows to the mouth and jaws, possible prevention of jaw fractures and possible prevention of and/or lessening forces causing concussions. A properly fitted appliance will stay in place while wearing it so talking and breathing are much easier. A properly fitted mouth guard will also stay in place thereby if a player is rendered unconscious, it is less likely to become an airway obstruction.
Some facts from the ADA and the California Dental Association:
What are the differences between stock, boil and bite, and custom mouth guards?
Stock mouth protectors come preformed and ready to wear. They make speech and breathing difficult due to their bulkiness. Boil and bite mouth protectors sometimes can fit better than stock. They are softened in warm water, placed in the mouth and allowed to adapt to the mouth. They too can be bulky, resulting in poor fit, difficult speech and difficult breathing. Custom fit mouth guards are made by a dentist. An impression of the mouth is made and the mouth guard is constructed on the model.
Because the fit is so good, the mouth guard is more comfortable and speech and breathing are much easier. Yes, this type is more expensive with some approaching $200 or more.
Personally, it is my recommendation that all mouth guards should be custom fit. My children, as most of you know, have worn this type of mouth guard since they got on skates. They can tell you they are the best mouth guards they have ever worn (we have tried the boil and bite ones – really disliked).
For more information on the mouth guards see www.ada.org . “Topics and Resources, A-Z topics”. Also www.sportsdentistry.com “Sports Dentistry Facts”. They have information from the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety.
Michele Spekhardt, DMD